There is a curious thing happening in the world today, something vast and progressive, yet outside of the viewpoint of those who pay it little attention. We take it as given, we adapt to its changes and we feel its ubiquity without really understanding what is happening – because, for the most part, it is a juggernaut to which not only do we pay homage, but reverence; the deity of technology is overcoming mythos of old, replacing ancient beliefs with supplication to its all encompassing omniscience. This is the accelerando, the exponential change of technological progression, a bell curve of rapidity that is quickly outstripping our ability to understand all the changes as they occur.
This acceleration, however, is not unnoticed by all. Scientists from all fields, futurists such as Ray Kurzweil have written upon it and investigated it extensively, and an entire university has been created to track its development. One group of people, however, are at the forefront of pushing these developments into the minds of the human consciousness, and it is through the eyes of artists that these notions are being visually presented to the world at large. Some may shrug it off as merely being "sci-fi"; we call it an imperative gaze into the future of the human condition.
ApeSeven is a multidisciplinary artists whose work delves into areas associated with this rapid climb in technological ubiquity. His figures contain visages of flesh and steel, circuits and skin. ApeSeven presents these ideas with influences imbibed from graffiti, skate and hiphop culture. From found objects to aerosol, illustration and a veritable compilation of mix media talents, his work is that of a man looking forward into his own visionary world without leaving the context of the present.
Ideology, the scientific method, an affinity with traditional folkloric knowledge, as well as a reverence for the history of learning and progress, all play a role within ApeSevens work, the elements of which are all manifestly evident in the large, post-human figures found adorning the walls of the cities he visits.
We caught up with ApeSeven ahead of the end of his residency event at Sydneys DampSpace, where he has spent the last two or so months creating a wall piece that will shortly be unveiled. Read on
Right back at the beginning, how did you start out drawing and painting, and how did you get into the creative game?
I started drawing in primary school at first for all the kids in class as part of their creative writing works… haha, I was an illustrator at the age of 8! It wasn’t until my later years snowboarding in Canada that painting came along as a means to relaxing in the evenings. I had the privilege of meeting a fellow snowboarder US west Coast artist "Klutch" in the early 2000’s he essentially was the first person to invite me to exhibit my works in Portland and San Francisco.
Skate culture, hip hop, science, technology … all all are fertile grounds for artists when it comes to formative years and their original influences – why do these things hold resonance with you, and what do you believe it is about some of these influences that finds them pervasive in a lot of the art being produced today?
First and foremost skating was my first passion and in hindsight it was a creative outlet, one which helped me to redefine what urban spaces
original purpose was. Things were no longer pathways, walls, steps but obstacles which needed to be manipulated and mastered.
Rap and the early can do attitude of the hip hop music scene resonated with me, here were guys with no formal music training and basic equipment getting to express their ideas … very inspirational!
Science and technology are one and the same, and I guess they represent my more rational side. Yet upon thinking about it more … the same "can do" attitude from early scientists, with their abilities to imagine, theorize and then prove concepts … the mind boggles … awesome.
One thing we’re interested in, is that we saw your interests also revolve around science, technology, and folklore – one would think that out of the three, that folklore is pretty far from technology, and people automatically get an idea of old stories and fabled tales – but there is already a culture of folkloric mythology around technology and science, which has become more apparent over the years; how do you interpret this via your work, and what do these juxtapositions of concepts garner within it?
I interpret this modern notion by combining visually organic elements, currently being skeletal structures and infusing them with notions of perpetual technology. These infusions are both represented by realistically painted tech and also by graphically painted symbols and nomenclature .
What I hope to explore is the idea of the new world religion "science", its past present and essentially create a visual science fiction of possible futures.
You did some pretty cool stuff on glass bottles, do you often create art using found objects? What’s the coolest/weirdest/most random thing you have ever used to create with?
I think the use of found objects come from skateboarding years the whole reuse, redefine idea. I think the weirdest thing would be using my own saliva to mix with paints so that I would leave a genetic signature …
Your technique is really varied, stencils to aerosol, traditional to mixed media – we often ask the question "Why is it important to vary your style" but we’re also curious – do you think that this time spent across various mediums means that it can take longer to master each one? Or is it a more complimentary evolution?
Mixed media represents the stratification of ideas and concepts in my head; within individual works there are many fulcrums of ideology and memory.
I guess a thorough understanding of light is important whether you are painting or drawing. I don’t think of different media as complete
different tools and yes as you have suggested complimentary and
I think it is important to explore various techniques, from the point of view that it keeps you learning – hence keeping your thought processes fresh. I personally believe that you owe your existence/gifts to learning…
Tell us a bit more about your aerosol work – how does this evolve out from the work you do with drawing and on canvases, and what techniques, if any, will you use both in the context of the piece zas well as in techniques, that differ between the two?
I think the evolution comes from an adaptation to paint works in public spaces quickly! The main ramifications being that I bring the aerosol component back to the studio as a mixed media tool.
You’ve been named to be part of Secret Walls in Sydney this year; there’s a big buzz about both the Melbourne and Sydney competitions – what do you think is the best thing about the Secret Wars concept?
If you look back at art history , many artists strive to achieve an efficient economy to their works. To put it another way "how can I best express what I want to say in the simplest way ???" … I think Secret Walls is a modern perversion of this … and hence extremely challenging.
What do you feel are some of the most important aspects you’ll keep in mind whilst you’re up there battling it out, and what are some of the things you are going to keep in mind whilst you’re battling it out?
Technique, technique, technique … how am I going to push and pull
objects, ideas, in a quick ,efficient manner? As far as I am concerned
there is no crowd or people or third person observational world, just
an obstacle that needs to be overcome.
Tell us about some of the work you’ve been doing in residency at Damp Space? How did you get involved with the guys there?
I live about five blocks away from Damp. Matt @ Damp simply contacted me, he had seen some of my prior works and wanted for me to have an exhibition – I suggested a direction away from your stock standard gallery show.
Damp space was essentially about giving my self time to work on one work, a mural titled "Former Glory". It is essentially an allegory of humankind’s evolutionary path and its effects on the other species here on the planet.
What do you have planned for the rest of 2012 and beyond? What directions would you like to go in, and what as yet unrealized projects will you explore?
Yes , yes there is an exhibition coming up later in the year touring Sydney and Melbourne with another artist the curious beasts Kaitlin Beckett. I am just focusing on producing works at the moment – Ideologically the show is aligned to what I am currently working on @ Damp .
The main plan I have for this year is to do the Dobell @ AGNSW, and hence spend 3-4 months on one enormous drawing.
Also this year the concept of true collaboration has popped up, not simply painting stuff side by side with another artist, but engaging with them in a way that produces a third, different work. Currently is a slow process, but some opportunities have arisen …
Check out ApeSevens website for more info on the artist!